This past Friday I picked up The Cloud of Unknowing from my church bookshelf of spiritual classics, looking for a quote to add to next Sunday’s spiritual formation bulletin insert. I was met with these words:
Whoever you are possessing this book, know that I charge you with a serious responsibility, to which I attach the sternest sanctions that the bonds of love can bear. It does not matter whether this book belongs to you, whether you are keeping it for someone else, whether you are taking it to someone, or borrowing it; you are not to read it, write or speak of it, nor allow another to do so, unless you really believe that he is a person deeply committed to follow Christ perfectly. I have in mind a person who, over and above the good works of the active life, has resolved to follow Christ (as far as is humanly possible with God’s grace) into the inmost depths of contemplation.
I put the book down.
I was arrested by the serious charge given me by an anonymous author; I could not cut and paste an inspirational quote from a book that I felt I was not prepared to consider myself.
I have since started reading this book seriously. I have found in the first few chapters (which are very concise, focused units) more spiritual direction than I have ever encountered before. I am repeatedly haunted by the charge to “Over and above the good works of the active life…follow Christ (as far as is humanly possible with God’s grace) into the inmost depths of contemplation.”
This is the journey to which I have been called, and which I have just begun.